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2023 NFL Draft Recap: AFC North Draft Grades

The 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone! The first thing to do is of course grade how each franchise did. @DanT_NFL is here with his grades for the AFC North.

The 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone. Two hundred fifty-nine young men had their dreams come true as they joined the ranks of the NFL. The weekend flew by, and there was a healthy dose of drama throughout the three days in Kansas City. The draft is always a franchise-defining moment for 32 clubs as they take their shot on these college prospects or trade away these picks for veteran starters. With such an important event, there is only one way to react; grades. Here are our NFL draft grades for the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens

Draft Grade: B-

  • Round 1 (22): Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
  • Round 3 (86): Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
  • Round 4 (124): Tavius Robinson, EDGE, Ole Miss
  • Round 5 (157): Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford
  • Round 6 (199): Sala Aumavae-Laulu, G, Oregon
  • Round 7 (229): Andrew Vorhees, G, USC

This isn’t included in the draft grade, but last week was a big week for the Baltimore Ravens. They began by signing free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Eventually, they agreed to terms with quarterback Lamar Jackson on a contract extension just a few hours before the draft began. The team could start looking to the future with that drama out of the way. That was the 2023 NFL Draft class.

Baltimore continued to invest in pass-catching weapons when they selected Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers with the 22nd overall pick. It is obvious now that Todd Monken intends to pass much more as the new offensive coordinator of the Ravens. Flowers joins Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, Odell Beckham, and Mark Andrews as pass-catching options. If any of them are to remain fantasy relevant, the passing attempts will have to surpass last years greatly.

The rest of the class included Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson, Ole Miss edge defender Tavius Robinson, Stanford cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly, Oregon guard Sala Aumavade-Laulu, and finally, USC guard Andrew Vorhees. While Simpson is the only projected starter, Kyu Blu Kelly can easily find himself in the starting role at cornerback. Vorhees may be the most exciting player, as he tore his ACL at the combine, but before that was a projected top-ten guard in the 2023 NFL draft class. 

Cincinnati Bengals

Draft Grade: B+

  • Round 1 (28): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
  • Round 2 (60): DJ Turner, CB, Michigan
  • Round 3 (95): Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
  • Round 4 (131): Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue
  • Round 5 (163): Chase Brown, RB, Illinois
  • Round 6 (206): Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton
  • Round 6 (217): Brad Robbins, P, Michigan
  • Round 7 (246): DJ Ivery, CB, Miami

The defending AFC North champs head into the 2023 season with Super Bowl aspirations. The Bengals’ roster has a few holes, but some needs were created due to some free-agent departures. Cincinnati began the 203 NFL draft with a day-one starter when they selected Clemson Edge rusher Myles Murphy who will line up opposite Trey Hendrickson in Week One. 

Day two was spent addressing the secondary early on with the selections of Michigan cornerback DJ Turner and Alabama safety Jordan Battle. These two will fill the shoes of Jessie Bates and Eli Apple, who left in free agency. We also saw our first offensive player added to the team with Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones. The Bengals have several tough contract decisions regarding the receiver room, and Jones might serve as a replacement in 2024.

Day three brought on the addition of Illinois’s Chase Brown to the running back room as well as Princeton wide receiver Andrei Iosivas. Chase Brown becomes extremely interesting for fantasy football if the rumors of Joe Mixon’s departure are true. The final two selections of the 2023 NFL draft for Cincinnati are Michigan punter Brad Robbins and Miami cornerback DJ Ivery.

Cleveland Browns

Draft Grade: B+

  • Round 3 (74): Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
  • Round 3 (98): Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
  • Round 4 (111): Dawand Jones, T, Ohio State
  • Round 4 (126): Isaiah McGuire, EDGE, Missouri
  • Round 5 (140): Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
  • Round 5 (142): Cameron Mitchell, CB, Northwestern
  • Round 6 (190): Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State

Year two of the Deshaun Watson trade package means the Cleveland Browns are without a first-round pick. Add in the Elijah Moore trade, and Cleveland didn’t select a player until pick 74. Despite a full wide receiver room, Andrew Berry continues his MO and takes value when it falls. This year it comes in the form of Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman. Tilman is a large-bodied wide receiver in a historically small class and maybe more insurance against Dovonan Peoples-Jones pricing himself off of the team versus a play in 2023. 

The Browns continue scooping up value with their three remaining day-two picks. Siaki Ika is the pick at 98. Ika is a defensive tackle from Baylor who many had as a top-100 player in this class. He finally addresses a desperate need for Cleveland. Pick 111 is another player who was projected top-100 pre-draft; Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones. Like Tilmann, Jones is a great value pick who may be more insurance against future contracts than he is an impact player in year one. 

On day three, Cleveland adds a development backup to Deshaun Watson when they select UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The final picks are more developmental/depth pieces, with cornerback Cameron Mitchell of Northwestern and center Luke Wypler of Ohio State. You won’t see much of this draft class in 2023, but don’t be surprised if all these players are starters in 2024/2025, as some veterans price themselves off the roster. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Draft Grade: A-

  • Round 1 (14): Broderick Jones, T, Georgia
  • Round 2 (32): Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State
  • Round 2 (49): Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin
  • Round 3 (93): Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
  • Round 4 (132): Nick Herbig, EDGE, Wisconsin
  • Round 7 (241): Cory Trice Jr, CB, Purdue
  • Round 7 (251): Spencer Anderson, G, Maryland

The Pittsburgh Steelers may have had the best class in the 2023 NFL Draft. It all began on night one when they traded up with New England from 17 to 14 jumping ahead of New York Jets. This was key as both teams desperately needed offensive line help, and a clear tier break was coming up. The Steelers were fortunate to add a day-one start with Georgia’s Broderick Jones.

Day two is the highlight of the draft class, as the Steelers began with the first pick on the second day of the draft thanks to the Chase Claypool trade to the Chicago Bears. The rumors and predictions of Friday morning rang true as the Steelers selected Joey Porter Jr, son of Joey Porter Sr, a long-time Steeler. Outside of the family ties, Porter is a highly talented corner many had projected as a first-round talent. 

However, day two wasn’t over; they had another second-round pick spent on Wisconsin defensive tackle Keeanu Benton. Benton is exceptionally talented and will plug in as a day-one starter to help this Steelers’ defense. Pittsburgh finished day two of the 2023 NFL Draft by catching a falling Darnell Washington, at one point a projected first-round pick, and Edge defender Nick Herbig. With only two day three picks, Pittsburgh selected cornerback Cory Trice Jr of Purdue and Maryland guard Spencer Anderson. Both of these players were selected in the seventh. 

Overall, Pittsburgh leaves the draft with four impact day-one starters. They took a risk on Darnell Washington, who fell because of a medical issue involving his knee. If healthy, he will provide some much-needed help in the blocking game. This draft is a massive upgrade for both Kenny Pickett and Najee Harris as they get some much-needed help up front. 


The NFL draft has come and gone. That means it’s time for our rookie drafts! Want exclusive access to my rookie rankings and those of over twenty fellow analysts? Subscribe to the #NerdHerd, where you get exclusive content, dynasty/rookie rankings, and DynastyGM! If you want 15% off  ANY SUBSCRIPTION, USE PROMO CODE “LUNA” or CLICK HERE.

I hope you enjoyed this rookie profile. Be sure to check back often, as I will cover all fantasy-relevant positions. For more content like this, follow me on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!

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